When I was in high school and part of college, I worked at Panera Bread. After working there for three years, you’d think I would have become incredibly sick of their food, but instead it was just the opposite. I would take advantage of my discounted meal at my half an hour lunch/dinner break most shifts, and I almost always brought home some type of goodie for myself or my family. Needless to say, I probably gained at least 5 pounds while I was working there.
One of my favorite soups to get on my breaks at Panera was Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup. Chicken noodle soup is comforting to most, but I’ve always preferred rice and I’ve always been a sucker for creamy soups and dishes. Two years ago, when I had been living in my first apartment for just a few months, I made this Creamy Chicken & Rice Soup I found on the blog Budget Bytes. The soup was so delicious and instantly reminded me of the one I enjoyed at Panera Bread on so many of many occasions.
This soup is one of my very favorite recipes and is so satisfying every time I make it. It’s creamy, soothing, and filled with tender chicken, wild rice, and vegetables. It’s a perfect soup to make for your family, or to cheer up a sick friend. The combination of the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves creates a wonderful aroma that will make your home smell amazing.
To make this soup slightly lighter, I subbed the whole milk for evaporated milk and it was still incredibly creamy and flavorful. If you wish to eliminate the dairy all together, this soup is delicious just with a broth base, too! You can actually use any type of grain you like, as long as you make sure to follow the cooking instructions so as to not overcook it. I used a combination of wild & long grain rice and Bob’s Red Mill “Vegi Soup Mix”, which includes split peas and lentils in addition to grains.
Winter is coming to an end in New England, and what better way to celebrate than with this lovely soup? 🙂
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. chicken (about 2 medium-sized breasts)
- 1 quart (4 cups) low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 2 sprigs rosemary + 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup wild rice or your favorite grain mixture
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
- salt, to taste
- In a 3-4 quart cooking pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over low heat. Add diced onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring, until slightly softened. Add your celery and garlic and continue to cook over medium-low heat.
- Once veggies are tender, add your chicken breasts, chicken stock, water, herbs, and rice to the pot. Stir to combine and bring soup to a boil, then return to a simmer.
- Cook for about 30 minutes, or until rice is finished and chicken is cooked throughout. Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and use two forks to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces, then transfer back into the pot and turn off the heat.
- In a separate smaller sauce pan, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until a thick paste is formed. Stir in evaporated milk and bring to a simmer, continuing to whisk. Once mixture is thickened, remove from heat.
- Pour milk mixture into soup and season with salt to taste. Fish out herbs before serving, and enjoy with a piece of nice, crusty bread 🙂